Son of world champion Keke, Nico Rosberg was born on June 27th, 1985 in Wiesbaden in Germany. Although Nico’s father is Finnish, Nico races under the German flag – his mother’s nationality – and happily admits he knows very little Finnish.
Like most drivers, Nico started in karts at a young age, and in 2002 he progressed into single seaters with the Formula BMW series. Rosberg Jr comfortably won the title that year and this earned him a drive with his father Formula Three Euroseries team. Before starting the season, Nico became the youngest driver to test a Formula One car, done so with the BMW powered Williams. Nico continued to drive for his father into 2004, and his performances earned him a prestigious place in the ART Grand Prix team in the newly formed GP2 series (now recognised as the feeder series to Formula One and formerly known as Formula 3000).
Nico became the first GP2 world champion in 2005, and his success here earned him the opportunity to drive for Williams full-time in 2006. In his engineering aptitude test (given to all new employees at Williams), Nico scored the highest ever in the history of the team. This impressed team owners Frank Williams and Patrick Head, and Nico is often recognised as being an intelligent and mature driver.
In Nico’s first race in Bahrain, he managed to score a fine two points finishing seventh, just behind his much older and more experienced team mate Mark Webber. Rosberg also claimed a fastest lap, the youngest driver ever to do so. This was well noted up and down the pit lane as the Williams car was not considered a winning package and Nico also had to deal with progressing through the field after losing a nose cone early in the Grand Prix.
At Malaysia – the third round of the 2006 championship – Nico qualified third on the grid, but an engine failure halted his race prematurely. A few more points came and the paddock and public alike were impressed with the young drivers abilities, but the Williams car did not progress well through the season and the points soon dried up. It should be noted though, that Nico’s team mate didn’t fair much better and team owner Frank Williams did go on record to say that the season was pretty disappointing for the team, with the car being riddled with mechanical failures.
Impressed by Nico though, Frank Williams locked the German driver into a tightly binding contract, knowing that other teams were interested in his services. And in 2007, Nico partnered the teams test driver who had been promoted to a full-time seat – Alex Wurz. Although Wurz hadn’t raced in a good few years, he was expected to challenge Nico regularly, and with improvements made to the Williams, the year was set to be one of much happiness in comparison to previous.
And indeed 2007 was better than 2006. However, the car, now powered by Toyota, was still off the pace and it was only down to a poorly performing Renault that they were able to score as many points as they did. However, Nico drove well all year and his stock only grew as team owners realised his talent and maturity behind the wheel. Rosberg scored 20 points to Alex Wurz’s 13, and the German driver finished ninth in the drivers table.
By the end of the year many teams were publicly stating their interest in Rosberg, none more so than McLaren, who had lost their lead driver Fernando Alonso. However, the team clearly defined Rosberg’s role and future with the squad and Nico stayed on to compete further with the British marque.